by Garrett Horton
All four Rick Hendrick cars placed in the top-10 at Kentucky, the second time this year it has happened. Ironically, the other time came during a Saturday night race, at Texas Motor Speedway, also a 1.5 mile oval.
Jimmie Johnson has now moved up to a season high of third in the standings, completely erasing any memories of his slow start. However, if his 25-point penalty from the season opener at Daytona remained, he would be only one spot further back in fourth.
Greg Biffle, who has led the points for most of the year, fell back to fourth in the standings, the lowest he has been all year.
Five drivers have finished in the top-10 in the first two Kentucky events: Saturday’s winner Brad Keselowski, last year’s Kentucky champion Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Matt Kenseth.
It has now been 11 races since Ryan Newman’s last top-10, which was his win at Martinsville back in April. Surprisingly enough, he hasn’t fallen too far back in the points, only dropping from 8th to a three-way tie for 14th. Unfortunately for Newman, one of the drivers he is tied with is fellow one time winner in 2012 Kasey Kahne and would lose the tiebreaker to him based off of next highest finish. Prior to crashing out in the Quaker State 400, Newman had been holding on to the second wild card spot for several weeks.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. already has 13 top-10 finishes in 2012, eclipsing his total of 12 of the entire 2011 season.
Jeff Gordon’s career average finish at Daytona International Speedway, the highest amongst Chase hopefuls 11th through 20th in the standings. Additionally, his six wins at the 2.5 mile oval are more than any other active driver.
Since moving up to the Cup series with Jack Roush in 2000, Matt Kenseth has accumulated 22 victories, the sixth highest total in the span.
Jimmie Johnson earned his 26th career pole at Kentucky, but it was his first in nearly two years, with his last one coming at the 2010 fall event at Dover.
Michael Waltrip finished 30th piloting the No. 55 Aarons Camry at his home track. This was the lowest finish for the 55 where it was running at the end. Mark Martin placed 33rd at Kansas and 34th at Charlotte after late race engine failures eliminated him from possible top-10 results.
Going in with three consecutive top-3 results, Tony Stewart finished 32nd Saturday night, his worst outing of the season.
Jimmie Johnson has accumulated 238 points over the last six races, 13 more than second-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
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